Nancita Rogers endured several years of odd, unexplainable symptoms before a final and official diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in March 2000. She was determined to fight the disease, and worked with her doctors on drug treatments and physical and occupational therapy. She was encouraged to join a support group, but chose not to. However, finding herself isolated and alone three years later after her condition forced her to stop working, she slowly found a home among other MS patients, and soon found her advocacy voice.
Calling herself a rebel with a real, important cause, Nancita has come a long way since her diagnosis. "Realizing that despite my issues with MS I was probably better off than many others, my desire to speak up and fight for others who for various reasons couldn't do so for themselves, compelled me to advocate for people affected by MS."
At the state level, Nancita helped develop the Maryland Department of Disabilities, an agency that helps people adjust to the new realities of their conditions. She also has been active in reducing the wait time for MS patients to receive Medicare approval and Social Security Disability Insurance.
Through her advocacy work for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), Nancita was awarded a place in the organization's Hall of Fame in 2009. Additionally, she served on a multiple sclerosis peer review panel for the Department of Defense (DoD) evaluating the scientific and consumer relevance of grant applications. Later, when a Congressional appropriation led to the establishment of the DoD Multiple Sclerosis Research Program (MSRP), Nancita was selected to serve on the Integration Panel (IP) for the MSRP. Joining the IP presented challenges, but also provided Nancita with new opportunities to learn and serve.
"It is an incredible honor and privilege to serve on the IP, which is where recommendations for funding are made, as well as recommendations for the direction or focus of research program, Nancita said. "It is where I have an opportunity to explain how MS affects me, and the people who've been kind enough to trust me to share their stories. Through my time on the IP, I've had a chance to meet and work beside some of the country's best MS researchers, doctors, etc. and share my experiences living with MS."
Looking ahead, Nancita plans to continue working with the NMSS ("I want to continue to be deserving of being in the Hall of Fame!" she said), as well with other groups at the state and national level. Through it all, she will face each day with a positive outlook, giving thanks for the people and experiences MS has brought her.
"A comedian once said that MS is the worst way to meet some of the best people you'll ever come to know," Nancita said. "I agree. Through my advocacy work, I get to see that there really is an effort to cure MS and improve quality of life for MSers."